Flatiron Books: The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

Prosper Redding: The Last Life of Prince Alastor

"What evil can come from a choice made with a pure heart and the best of intentions?" What evil, indeed.

When last we saw Prosper Redding, his sister, Prue, had been abducted and brought to the realm of fiends (Downstairs). Determined to save her, Prosper makes a deal with Alastor, the malefactor demon currently residing in his body: Alastor will help Prosper save Prue, and return them to the human realm, in exchange for Prosper's "eternal servitude Downstairs upon [his] mortal death." Considering that Prosper's family has already "made a deal with a demonic parasite"--Alastor--"to destroy their rivals and pave their future with gold," Prosper accepts. Downstairs, the two begin a fact-finding mission to discover Prue's whereabouts and run into the "witchling" Nell, who is also trying to find Prue. Together, they travel through a (literally) dark land inhabited by trolls, howlers, goblins and, surprisingly, elves. But their time runs short as Downstairs falls victim to the Void and is slowly unmade.

Bracken's follow-up to The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding is as devious and delightful as the first. The adventure is engrossing, creepy and often very funny, as when Prosper accuses the malefactor of not seeing beauty: "Not true," Alastor replies, "I... see it in the gleam of blackpennies, the dark horizon of Downstairs, and the steaming blood of my enemies. Oh! And in hats." Prosper's journey is full of situations showing how gray the world can be, good intentions allowing for (understandably) bad actions.

While The Last Life of Prince Alastor offers a satisfying conclusion, it happily leaves the door open for future adventures; if readers are lucky, there will be more fiendish fun to come. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness